Introducing – Anna Dawson
I first met Anna in August 2017. I had arrived at a local beach playground to set up my daughter’s birthday party. Anna had just finished a short ocean swim with some other women. I decided anyone willing to swim mid-winter in New Zealand was the kind of person I wanted to know and so I went and introduced myself. I now swim most weeks with these women!
Anna recently had her second baby and at the same time launched a brand new business – Plastic Free Pantry. I love Anna’s passion and determination to make a difference to the world today and the future health of our planet.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Anna as much as I have …
1. Can you tell me a little about you and your family?
We are a new family of 4 – myself and my husband Robin, Joshi who is nearly 3 and Olivia who is now 3 months old. Robin and I are both Civil Engineers who met in the Philippines doing engineering work, however since then have had many different sorts of adventures such as sailing our 32 foot yacht Confederate from New Zealand up to the Philippines via Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomons and PNG. It was the trip of a lifetime and forever shaped our view of the world and our connection to the ocean.
2. What is your favourite thing to do for “me time”?
I like to read and play guitar in my limited “me” time.
3. How do you actually make this happen?
We are lucky to have grandparents living nearby and Robin works from home so its not too hard to steal some time for myself. Josh goes to homegrown kids four mornings per week, we are really happy with him being raised by the Waiheke village and getting time with other kids and this gives us some space to do work and focus on our new business.
4. You recently launched (just before having your second baby!!) a new
business on Waiheke Island – Plastic Free Pantry. Can you share with me what inspired you to do this?
Well as I mentioned our sailing experience shaped us in a big way. We were completely connected to the ocean for 2 years, snorkeling all the time, fishing for food and trading it with villages for vegetables, we lived so simply and loved the beauty of nature. During that trip we saw a lot of remote islands full of plastic and when we got back into life in New Zealand I started to learn more and more what plastic is doing to the health of the oceans, as well as human health!
Plastic Free pantry is delivering food to island households without the plastic packaging as it is really hard to reduce waste in the kitchen and soft plastic is not well recycled.
5. What is your big vision for Plastic Free Pantry?
The vision is always evolving and I don’t want to give away everything about whats in store but here are some concepts I can see us working on in the future…
1) reusable packaging for our regular customers (where you just leave out your bags/jars and empty cleaning bottles each time you are accepting a delivery, we refill and return)
2) drawing on local manpower to process food so it doesn’t have to be packaged in plastic and creates jobs within the community – I’m big on local food systems and I think if we focus on the local we will reduce the need plastic.
3) setting up a commercial wash station to encourage the use of reusable products – this could wash anything from coffee cups to nappies and just make reusables more convenient.
Basically we just want to make it really easy and convenient for busy people not to use plastic. Plastic is really a problem of convenience more than anything else and we all suffer from getting too busy and taking the shortcuts/easy option. But what if the easy option was plastic free? That’s what we’re working on.
6. How do you juggle running your business & being a Mum?
Well its definitely not pretty sometimes. There has been a few days where we’ve fallen into bed at night and said we’ve got to make some changes. I think being a mum you are constantly hitting breaking point then taking some time out and getting back on track. We’ve recently found some more people to help out with the business so I can be more present with Olivia and as I type this she is sleeping.
We’re just surviving and doing the best we can which I’m sure is what most mums with young kids would say! The kids are definitely a driving force for us because we want them to experience the ocean life that we did on our sailing adventure. And while Olivia is often preventing me from doing things on the business that I would like to do sometimes it works out well. It forces me to slow down and spend a lot of time reflecting on each decision. I think sometimes it’s a mistake to try to grow things too quickly but we forget this in our fast paced modern life. Kids slow us down, but they help us to smell the roses too!!
7. What is one simple step families anywhere could take to reduce
their plastic consumption?
Start in the kitchen and try to figure out alternatives. There is lots you can buy in jars, and fresh veggies and fruit are for the most part packaging free – good for you and the ocean!! You can also check out www.plasticfreepantry.co.nz for what we have on offer.
8. What are you most grateful for at this point in your life?
Family. The Waiheke community. The ocean. Nature.
My gratitude to Anna for her sharing her story.
If you live on Waiheke Island pop over and check out their store. You can collect your order at the Ostend Markets on Saturday (for free) or arrange for home delivery.
If you live further afield pop over to the Plastic Free Pantry Facebook page for some inspiration for your own kitchen. Every small step you take adds up and makes a difference in the world.